Disney unveils plans for 'Monsters, Inc.' sequel

 'Brave' gets date; 'Pirates 4,' 'Prom,' 'Muppets' greenlighted

Pixar tentpole "Brave" has been given a release date of June 15, 2012, and there will be another "Monsters, Inc.," scheduled for the 2012 holiday season, precisely Nov. 16.

Those were two of the news items off a wide-ranging discussion and presentation Thursday by new Disney film chieftain Rich Ross.

After unveiling trailers for a number of upcoming titles -- including Jerry Bruckheimer's "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and the female-skewing "Secretariat," with Diane Lane as the horse's determined owner -- Ross unveiled the first three movies he's greenlighting: "Pirates of the Caribbean 4," and "The Muppets" in 2011 and the teen-targeted "Prom" in 2012.

The first is the company's most successful global franchise and hence a no-brainer, the second will introduce a new Muppet named Walter, and the third will be "smart and authentic" a la what John Hughes used to do.

"Brave," once known as "The Bear and the Bow," is written and directed by Brenda Chapman and features the voices of Reese Witherspoon and Billy Connolly in a tale of archery and royalty.

"Monsters, Inc.," directed by Pete Docter, grossed $525 million worldwide after its release in November 2001.

Speaking to about 20 reporters in the Frank Wells building on the Disney lot, Ross -- who has been on the job for seven months -- tipped his cap to the Dick Cook regime that preceded him but also embraced the studio's upcoming slate as his own.

He emphasized that the tentpole business is crucial to the success of the global Disney brand but that not everything on the slate is a four-quadrant movie. Perhaps four out of 10 Disney pics per year would be genuine tentpoles going forward, he said.

Ross emphasized the diversity of the banners under the studio umbrella -- from Disney's bemused and decidedly modern take on the Rapunzel fairy tale in "Tangled" to Pixar, Marvel and DreamWorks' distinctive brands and approaches. But, he added, none has a "silo mentality."

As for his background in cable TV and his hiring of several relative outsiders to key positions, Ross said he wants "diversity of thought."

Affable and relaxed, the executive -- who said his favorite movie is "Tootsie" -- seemed particularly enthused by the emotional tone of the fall release "Secretariat," which he said is a movie that is "a signal of what Disney is."

The unfinished trailer included a scene in which the race horse is born -- and the foaling that was filmed recently in Kentucky features the actual great-grandson of the Triple Crown champion.

About the next "Pirates," Ross said several new characters would be introduced -- Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane already are on board -- including some international talent.

And more than 10 years after "Toy Story 2," the third installment in the franchise -- which is out June 18 and will be in 3D -- features a number of new toys and voices, Ross noted, as well as the return of leads Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.